12/23/00 Radio Address of the President to the Nation
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Saturday, December 23, 2000

                                 RADIO ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT
                                 TO THE NATION

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  This weekend, we not only celebrate the
first Christmas of the new millennium, we also celebrate an America blessed
with the gift of unprecedented prosperity and progress.

     We're in the midst of the longest economic expansion in our nation's
history, with record surpluses, more than 22 million new jobs, the lowest
unemployment in history and the lowest Hispanic and African American
unemployment ever recorded.

     We have strengthened the cornerstone of the American Dream along the
way:  the chance to own a home.  Today, we have the highest homeownership
in our nation's history with record levels of minority homeownership.  And
more Americans than ever are celebrating that gift this holiday season.

     Over the last eight years Vice President Gore and I have worked hard
to give nearly 10 million more families the opportunity to own their own
homes -- by cutting red tape, speeding up loans, making financing available
for families who were too often locked out of the market -- creating more
opportunity and choice for families who live in assisted housing.

     In the last three years our administration has secured nearly 200,000
new housing vouchers to help hard-pressed families find decent and
affordable housing.  I want to especially thank our HUD Secretary, Andrew
Cuomo, for his extraordinary commitment to making affordable housing
accessible to citizens who need it most.

     Today we're introducing new measures to more fully integrate public
housing, so families from different social and economic walks of life have
the chance to live in diverse communities.  In addition to expanding
opportunity for more Americans, this will also help to break down
destructive barriers of race and class.

     We're also taking action to increase loan limits from the Federal
Housing Administration by nearly 9 percent to help more working families to
own their first home.  Since 1993, the FHA program has given more than 4
million Americans that chance.  We have made real progress.

     But too many Americans still will be spending this Christmas without a
roof over their heads.  That's why we've helped to move thousands of
families off the street.  Yet, there still are more than a half million
men, women and children whose only home every night is a neighborhood
shelter or a park bench.

     In this time of unparalleled prosperity, we must do more to help them.
Today, I'm pleased to announce $1 billion in new grants to help more than
200,000 homeless people along the path to self-sufficiency.  This is the
largest amount ever dedicated to helping homeless Americans rebuild their

     The grants will fund proven successful programs, like Continuum of
Care, which helps homeless families with transitional and permanent
housing, drug treatment and medication, job training and child care.  It
also funds efforts like the Emergency Shelter Grants program, which
provides for transitional housing and helps communities maintain emergency

     Taken together, these grants are a gift that will give back to us in
many ways.  They will empower communities to employ innovative solutions to
helping homeless adults and their children.  People like Juanita Price, a
recovering drug addict who once spent her nights in abandoned buildings and
hollowed-out cars.

     Thanks to the Continuum of Care program, Juanita found the support she
needed and turned her life around.  Today, she's got a steady job, an
apartment, and she's studying to be a nurse at Howard University here in
Washington, D.C.

     There are lots and lots of people like Juanita who could use a helping
hand.  Today we're lending that hand by giving more homeless Americans the
tools they need to succeed, so that this Christmas they can find warmth
inside a home, not from the top of a steam grate.

     It is said in The Scripture:  "I will appoint a place for my people so
they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more."  Today, in this
season of hope and giving, we should redouble our efforts to ensure that
every American can have a place of his or her own.

     The steps we're taking now will create new opportunity for the
homeless, for hard-pressed working families, and for those struggling to
buy their first home. I can't think of any better way to celebrate this
holiday season.

     Thanks for listening.


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